I just finished Lou Berny’s first novel GUTSHOT STRAIGHT and it’s the most enjoyable book I’ve read in quite some time. At it’s core, it’s a basic caper story about a guy and a girl on the run from bad people. The bad people are colorful and have names like The Whale and Dikram. The guy is a nice criminal and the girl is, well, complicated. She morphes and changes, but never too far that you don’t follow, but just enough to keep the stakes interesting. There’s double-crosses, and fun dialogue, and some interesting history of religious relics and the construction of the Panama Canal. But the greatest praise I can give this book is that I read all the way through to the end. With action endings and such popular in crime novels, I tend to gloss over the action scenes and get to the last chapter or so where themes are revealed and everything is wrapped up. But this climax was handled so well, and almost entirely with dialogue, that I will be studying it for days to come. Well done Mr. Berney.
And this is a book I probably would have never found without the internet. I don’t know the specific point of contact, and I don’t suspect there was just one. I imagine it was a casual reference in a blog followed by a mention on Twitter and the an early review from someone and so on. In his latest Huffington Post column, Jason Pinter says he thinks this is the most exciting time to be a reader of books and I agree. My tastes in entertainment tend to run smack dab in the middle of the status quo. I’ve never been a fan of edgy music or edgy films (though moreso in the last few reasons, also because of the Internet) but my reading is more broad and varied because of the Internet. I routinely read books from small presses like Tyrus and Busted Flush and even micropressed like New Pulp Press. The short fiction market online is also a great way to put a strong edge on my reading and catch the new guys coming up. So thank you interwebs for expanding my horizons.